Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Amanda Luedeke is Back From the Dead - post 2

Note: If you missed post 1, here it is.

Sometime in April, (or was it May?), I scaled back on the hours I put into my day job. I'd reached a point where I'd hit a wall when it came to growing the agenting job. My day job just took too much out of my day. So, after a bit of angst and frustration and worry and tears and fretting, I talked to my day job people.

And the result was Wednesdays off.

Sure, it affected my pay. And later I found out that I would miss out on bonuses and get fewer vacation days (yeah, the vacation days I used to work at conferences), but it was what I needed to do to keep moving forward. Because like with anything in life, the things that mean the most, rarely come easy.

So there I was...with suddenly all kinds of time. Or at least it felt that way. I remember telling my agenting boss, Chip, that it felt as though I could breathe. Like a load was lifted. And for the first time in quite awhile I was able to sleep at night without a zillion things running through my head...things that I'd forgotten to do, conversations I'd failed to follow up on, deadlines that has snuck up on me in the dead of stillness (don't you hate when that happens?).

All of that stopped. My mind cleared. And I felt in control.

So what did I do? I decided to write a novel.

It's funny how when you're comfortably busy and not that over-extended and only a tad behind things that you can't bear the thought of adding something else to your list. But when you're super busy and freaking out and overworked, those are the times that you're most productive. They're the times that the addition of 9 free hours to your day suddenly translates into enough time to crank out a novel.

And so that's what I did. I cranked it out. I'd never written a complete novel before. I'd always started and then stopped, moving on to a better idea or convincing myself that the current one was bad. I had no discipline. No internal motivation.

But to be frank, now that I was working with authors, I was feeling to be a bit of a fake. No, writing a novel is not a prerequisite to being an agent. But it helps.

I needed to be able to sympathize with my authors. To be able to understand what they're going through when they're doubting their middles or frustrated at the fact that their protagonists are always crying (this happens). I need to say "hey, I've been there, and here's what you need to do..."

So I started writing. And that writing bug that I'd always wished would bite me, took such a chunk out of my usually-resistant self that I started writing and I never stopped. I'd crank out thousands of words in a night. THOUSANDS OF WORDS. I'd do 10 or 15000 in 7 days. Sometimes in 5 days. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

And I worked and I worked and I worked.
And soon, in order to write, I had to give things up. I started saying no when Tad asked me if I wanted to hang out with him and our neighbor friends. I said no when he asked if I wanted to watch tv. I said no to movies. No to game nights. No, no, no, over and over and over. I could even hear them having fun sometimes...just down the hall and in the other apartment. And still, I said no.

And in five months, I had a book. 75,000 words. 140 pages. Single spaced. Block paragraphs.

I would never have been able to do that if I hadn't already been stretched thin. Already pushing my limits. And I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it if I'd said "yes" to all those offers of fun and good times. Because at some point, you have to determine what's really important and then you go for it. And for a time, it's going to suck.

But in the end, you have the first draft of your first novel, and it feels a whole lot better than watching 100 movies and playing a zillion rounds of Uno.


  1. Yeah, you got to hate those characters that only cry. And be pregnant too while they're doing it. ;)

  2. You are the thing that separates
    every other single pro write who came out of TUFW. I love them all with my heart im not slamming them however, You and Nate marchand are the first NON lazy persistent amazing people to come out of our school and do something amazing with it! "So what did I do? I decided to write a novel." This is the first thing that makes a Pro Writer fantastic. You are one of them! Please know i am not slamming our beloved Pro Writer friends @TUFW. but you two have actually done amazing things that take a whole lot of humungus effort that i ever seen! I for sure couldnt do it. I write to entertain and inform. I cant write stories. Im glad i Know you amanda and you are doing what you love. I also love that you except me for who I am too many from TUFW didnt/dont.
    So thank you for allowing me to let me watch your journey im excited for your future! I wouldnt doubt your greatness to come fora second or wouldnt put past you a real life movie in the works. I kid but im dead serious at the same time. you rock amanda "keep moving forward opening new doors, and doing new things, because you're curious and curiosity keeps leading you down new paths." Blessings to you!

  3. you may have just given me a little spurt of motivation to actually start writing that collection of essays that's been rolling around in my head.
    Beth E.

  4. I still want to read about your Vikings.

  5. I'm so like you! I lighten my load so I can deal with everything I have going on... and then I take on three new projects because I have so much TIME!
    And yes, they DO cry a lot. Why is that? Silly protagonists and their angst...